Credit: Ian Dickson

T. Rex and Marc Bolan’s stunning performance of ‘Cosmic Dancer’ at Wembley in 1972

We’re dipping into the Far Out vault to bring you a particularly glamorous performance from one of rock and roll’s most glittering gems, T. Rex performing their iconic glam rock hit ‘Cosmic Dancer.’ We’re also going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the best performance to feature just an acoustic guitar and a set of conga drums you’ll ever see. 

Stick with us. We know the thought of an acoustic guitar and a set of drums is the stuff of Kumbaya nightmares but here, T. Rex, and perhaps most notably their lead singer Marc Bolan, create a sensational performance and a riotous atmosphere. It’s truly impressive stuff. 

The clip comes courtesy of Born to Boogie, a concert film built out of two evenings at Wembley Arena back in 1972. At the time, music was a particularly tribal place to be. Unlike today where the youth are encouraged to pick and choose the songs and artists they like, in the seventies, you had to be dead certain what music and musician you liked because you were with them for life.  

A lack of everyday contact with musicians and film stars, the likes of which we achieve almost every second via social media today, meant that kids across the country were allowed to become fanatics in their bedrooms and turn singers into idols overnight. The very treatment was given to Marc Bolan when he and his band T. Rex burst onto the scene in the early seventies. 

Their second album Electric Warrior would throw the band into the stratosphere alongside the growing glam rock movement. Featuring songs like ‘Get It On’ and ‘Jeepster’ the band grew devoted following much of which filled Wembley arena back in 1972. 

The clip starts with Bolan addressing that very fandom. Sitting down on the stage cross-legged, almost eye to eye with his audience, he first asks the crowd to move back as he’s worried they’re being squashed. Later saying if anyone is being hurt to give him “a little wave.” With that moment of connection and comfort, Bolan launches into a perfect rendition of ‘Cosmic Dancer’. 

Bolan begins the track, aided by Mickey Finn on the aforementioned congas, as you might expect. A gentle lilt and the dazzling demeanour of a star-crossed lover does a great job of whipping a crowd into an intense staring match with the singer. It’s a touching moment of truly potent songwriting and, most importantly, performance. 

As if to compound that point, Bolan once completing the album version of the song then begins a rhythmic acoustic solo. Removed from the gentle orchestral lullaby of the song on the record, here Bolan takes it to a brand new height of rock and roller, finding a charge of electricity even with being unplugged.   

It’s an absolute joy to behold and acts as a document of the huge influence and fame Bolan had before his tragic death just weeks before his 30th birthday. Of course, by that point, Bolan had risen to the top, fallen and started his rise once again, only to be cut short. For now, we look back at a moment where he is revelling in his success. 

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